Reported speech

Hi Sweetie,

Sometimes someone says a sentence, for example I’m going to the cinema tonight and, later we want to tell someone else what the first person said.

In this case we use a reporting verb like say or tell combined with a modified version of the original sentence.

If this verb is in the present tense, it’s easy. We just put she says and then the sentence. Example:

  • Direct speech: I like ice cream.
    Reported speech: She says she likes ice cream.

We don’t need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the person
from I to she, for example. We also may need to change words like my and your.

If the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech. Example:

  • Direct speech: I like ice cream.
    Reported speech: She said she liked ice cream.

The following table lists the tense changes when we transform a sentence to the report speech:

Tense Direct speach Reported speach
Simple Present I like ice cream. She said (that) she liked ice cream.
Present Continuous I am living in London.She said (that) she was living in London She said (that) she was living in London.
Simple Past “I bought a car”. She had bought a car.

or

She said (that) she bought a car.

Past Continous
“I was walking along the street”. She said (that) she had been walking along the street.
Present Perfect
““I haven’t seen Julie”. She said (that) she hadn’t seen Julie.
Past Perfect
““I had taken English lessons before””. She said (that) she had taken English lessons before.

(doesn’t change)

Will
I’ll see you later. She said (that) she would see me later.

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Exercises

Try the following exercises:

  1. Reported speech, Simple Present.
  2. Reported speech, Simple Past.

Beijo do pai!

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